“Trust yourself. You’ve survived a lot, and you’ll survive whatever is coming.”


The above quote is from Robert Tew and although I prefer to trust in the Creator I believe we also need to trust in ourselves, or rather, trust that we do receive all we need through the Divine One when we are open and allowing the Creator to work in us and through us.

As I have written before, I work at the local library. The library is housed in a huge recreation and sports complex which is closed until further notice. Which means the library is also closed. I will miss the daily interaction with our patrons and with my wonderful coworkers. Initially I was worried and wondered how I would be able to pay the rent, bills, etc. but this morning I read a lovely email from our director assuring staff that we will continue to be paid for our shifts for the next two weeks at least. That’s a big relief. Governments have also assured us that they will be putting programs in place to help people through this financial challenge. We are so very blessed. Yet, I cannot help but wonder about the people in developing nations where health care systems are not as advanced as ours; where daily needs were a huge challenge long before this pandemic erupted. These thoughts are somber indeed. I cannot afford to emotionally stay with these thoughts for long. There is just so much going on and it is so anxiety-provoking. I may be misquoting here, but I think the Buddhist teaching is “Do not attach to suffering”. So, I will do my best to not worry and to trust that the Creator knows the suffering of all people, everywhere, and knows our every fear and anxiety.

Anxiety has become a way of life for many years. I have often written about my husband’s fragile health and the challenges before us now with Covid 19 have brought these worries to the fore once again. And yet, I have learned that the Creator is always at my side. I have been brought through so many storms; so many highly stressful situations and circumstances. And always, always, we receive all we need. Always I am reminded of the holiness and sacredness of humanity – the reflection of the Divine in each human being. The Creator has brought people into my life who have supported me in every way imaginable. So why should I worry about Covid 19? God really is in control and well used to our human frailty and constant doubts and fears. I think in these uncertain times it is more important than ever to remember the words of Christ: “Do not be afraid”.

Fear and stress release toxins into the body and can make us quite sick. Now more than ever we need to take care of our physical, mental, and emotional health and, perhaps, most importantly, our spiritual health. I have been told in the past that I am a very strong person. No, I am not. Any strength you may perceive is the Creator sustaining me and guiding me. May we all be strengthened. May we all receive the gifts of faith, hope, and wisdom. Be gentle with yourselves, my friends and stay healthy and stay safe.

A Forced Surrender


Is there anything worse than getting sick right before a long weekend? I am forced to surrender; to rest; to let go of the need to get things done. I am my own worst enemy, pushing myself to exhaustion at times. Why? I don’t know and couldn’t tell you, even if you paid me. The weather has been cooperating, but my body has not. So, instead of getting out and about, like I’d wanted to do, I am sleeping – a lot! I am grateful that I don’t get sick often. I’d make a lousy patient. But the silver lining is that I am getting lots of rest and taking time to read (I have three books on the go at the moment). Still, I hope this thing is on its way out of my system. At any rate, I thought I’d stop by and wish you all a Happy Labour Day. May you enjoy this well deserved day of rest.

Lessons learned about advocating for the sick and/or vulnerable


Many of you know that I have been on a journey with my husband through the health care system in Canada for many years now. I want to preface this post by stating that doctors and nurses in Canada are doing their very best within a health care system that has undergone severe budget cuts in the past few decades. Monies that have not been replaced. These cuts have played havoc with the ability of health care professionals to extend full and proper care to their patients. A shortage of both doctors and nurses mean patients are not receiving optimum care. Making patient advocacy an absolute necessity.

It became clear to me why patients need somebody to advocate on their behalf during my husband’s hospitalization about three years ago. At that time, he’d only been in hospital overnight when I received a call from him the following morning telling me he’d been released and needed me to come pick him up. It was the coldest day of the winter with temperatures dipping to around minus fifty Celsius with the wind chill factor. It was also in the midst of a flu epidemic that was keeping our emergency room crowded with people, and, no doubt, creating a bigger demand for hospital beds – hence my husband’s discharge. During the drive home he held his door open while he vomited on the pavement. I was incensed, but he adamantly refused to go back to emergency, I should have insisted.

Fast forward a year or so, it was another case of him being unable to keep food down and he was having trouble breathing. He spent a week in hospital but was released, still sick. It was an awful week at home. He couldn’t eat anything without throwing up. He looked like death. He spent every day in a zombie-like state. We were following the directions given us when he was released but he was getting worst. Finally, I called an ambulance to take him back to the hospital.

 He would be hospitalized for another three weeks. He had so many issues. One of which was a heart arrythmia and doctors feared he may have another heart attack. (He’d undergone a quadruple heart bypass a few years ago.) After much debate between medical specialists he was air lifted to Edmonton for an angiogram. Now, following an angiogram procedure the patient needs to lay flat for several hours to prevent bleeding. In my husband’s case he was put in a wheelchair and then flown back home. It resulted in a blood clot in his leg that caused it to swell to three times its normal size. It aggravated his health and caused his hospital stay to be extended. I should have been with him. Weak and sick he was in no condition to fight for himself.

In March of this year my husband had to be hospitalized yet again. Initially, I thought it would only be for a few days. He had fluid build up on his heart and lungs yet again – a condition he’d been hospitalized for previously several times.  I wasn’t terribly concerned – a few days on oxygen and he would be home again – so I thought. But a blood test revealed that his blood was very thin – a result of medications he was on that were not monitored. Special care had to be taken to ensure he wasn’t cut as he could bleed out very quickly. Red flag number one! After a few days in hospital a lung specialist was called in about his difficulty breathing. Apparently, he had been living with a damaged diaphragm, likely caused by heavy work he’d done when he was young. At any rate this resulted in decreased lung capacity. The doctor remarked on his surprise that this had not been caught earlier in one of his many hospital stays. Red flag number two! Then his blood pressure started dropping dramatically the minute he stood up leading to a couple of falls and scaring both my husband and his nurses.  Red flag number three! Then he started throwing up and experiencing acute pain in his side. After many tests and further investigations doctors diagnosed a gall bladder attack, but due to his history and with a heart arrythmia, it was decided that he needed to be air lifted to the University of Alberta Hospital – NOW! Our local hospital is small and does not have the diagnostic tools, or the number of specialists that are available in the city.

I was offered a free ride on STARS, the air ambulance, flying him to Edmonton once again. Naturally I said yes – I didn’t want a repeat of what had happened to him the year before, that quick shuffling him back home to save dollars. I was determined to be his voice and his advocate no matter what happened next. How often I would be called upon in the weeks ahead!

The problem, as I see it, is that patients are treated for whatever malady they are admitted for, without consideration of the overall picture. This can lead to dire consequences for the patient, if there is nobody to speak on their behalf. The first week in Edmonton was extremely stressful. Like most hospitals, patients are placed in the first bed available, in my husband’s case this was a bed in the orthopedic wing on the surgery floor. The University of Alberta Hospital is a teaching hospital, which means he had many interns and student nurses caring for him. Which is fine, as long as somebody is overseeing their “care”. 

One morning, after we’d been there a short time and doctors had brought his pain level under control, two bright-eyed students appeared by his bedside. “We’re going to get you up today”, one said. I looked at them rather incredulously and asked if they had read his chart. “Do you know that his blood pressure drops substantially the minute he stands up and that he’s fallen twice at the hospital back home?” I asked them. No, they did not know this. No, they had not read his chart.

 At another time I was reading the ingredients in his i.v. bag: sodium and potassium were listed. Off I went to talk to the charge nurse to question this. At that time my husband’s kidneys were failing and we had been told by his kidney doctor about the importance of limiting potassium and cutting salt out of his diet as much as possible. She told me the surgeon looking after his gall bladder had ordered the i.v. while the kidney doctor had ordered it stopped. She had two contradictory orders and wasn’t sure which she should follow. I explained the importance of keeping potassium and sodium (salt) to an absolute minimum in order to avoid dialysis and asked that the i.v. be stopped until she spoke with both these doctors. She did and the issue was resolved.

These are just two examples where I had to speak up on his behalf. He was so sick and so very weak. For two weeks he was unable to eat anything – partly because he couldn’t and partly because of the tests that required he not eat or drink beforehand. I shudder to think what would have happened to him if I hadn’t been there. How many patients have no one to advocate for them? People who are very sick do not have the strength to be fighting with health care workers, nor the presence of mind. In a perfect world this would not be an issue. However, with administrators facing ever increasing financial pressures, patients are often discharged from hospital the minute they can stand on their feet, regardless of how long. Furthermore, patients are not treated as whole human beings, but rather for the specific issue that brought them to the hospital in the first place, never mind how many other health issues they may be experiencing.

So, if at all possible, and I know in many cases it’s not possible, make sure your loved ones have an advocate if they are hospitalized, and even if they’re not. In Canada most family doctors can only address one issue due to rules and regulations regarding payment. It is a sad situation and one that should be addressed by the government. Until it is the weak and vulnerable are at the mercy of the system – and the system often fails them.

Edmonton Adventure #2: Blessings and signs of hope


Coming home after round two in Edmonton I am still harboring feelings of apprehension. The past few years have been fraught with difficulties and challenges where my hubby’s health is concerned. Fear seemed to be a constant companion with each and every hospital visit. I am still holding my breath. He’s still in hospital and while there have been successes such as his recent surgery other issues remain.

Doctors had said he was at a very high risk for surgery, in fact they warned he may not survive it. All these thoughts were on my mind as I sat waiting for the operation to be finished – as I waited for news.

I had met and made friends with two women from Northern Saskatchewan during his last hospitalization. I was grateful when they offered to come sit with me while hubby went through the surgery. They were a wonderful source of strength and a welcome distraction as we traded stories about our lives. Words cannot express the relief when I received word that the operation was successful and he was in the recovery room. I will always be thankful for the support and friendship gifted to me by these women.

Life and death take on a much deeper meaning when your days and nights are spent in a hospital. I was blessed to meet many kind and compassionate people during my time in Edmonton. People whom had been total strangers prior to this. People who I will keep in my thoughts and prayers for a long time yet to come. People who have become friends. Friendships forged in the fires of fear. Friendships that gave hope, support, and sustained us.

A rainbow over the skies at the airport where we awaited the air ambulance that would take us home

As the day finally came when hubby was transferred back to our local hospital, I bid good-bye to one and all – friends, doctors, and nurses who had aided me in so many ways – not least of all in lending their strength when I was at my weakest points. At the airport a beautiful rainbow arched across the sky – that age-old symbol of hope.

As the plane flew us back home the scene outside the window was serene and beautiful. We were flying above the cloud cover and the sun shone. It seemed an apt metaphor: no matter what storm clouds may gather I hope I will remember the sun will always light the way again.

The sun above the clouds made for an idyllic and tranquil scene as we winged out way home

Hoping and Dreaming


My husband is still in hospital. His blood pressure drops every time he stands up. He has a plethora of health issues: diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and more recently we learned, lung disease as well. Through all the challenges he has kept his sense of humor.

 In hospital he has fallen twice and is now confined to bed. After one such fall, after the nurse had made sure he hadn’t done any harm to himself, she jokingly asked him what he was doing on the floor he responded, “looking for dust bunnies”.

The doctors are trying to figure out what is causing the drop in blood pressure and until that is sorted out he cannot come home, for obvious reasons.

I just finished reading a couple of blog posts – one about patience and training a new puppy; the other about “date nights” while raising a family and the power of love.

Love, whether for a significant other, a family member, child, or a fur baby, blesses us, gives us hope, and allows us to dream.

Needless to say, I am hoping for a solution for my husband’s health issues. And I am dreaming of better days to come when he is home with me once more.

Just Okay


“How are you?”

“I’m okay.”

“Just okay?”

“Yup, just okay, but I’m here.”

I participate in this scenario quite often. My husband is not well and I am his main caregiver. I don’t think most people want an honest answer to the question of how I am, not really. Most days I am okay – just okay. There are some when I am very happy, and of course others when I definitely am not happy. But for the most part I am okay. I don’t think people really want to know about my daily struggles or the things that I find frustrating. It’s not easy caring for a sick partner. It just isn’t. I congratulate myself on a daily basis for being ‘just okay’.

I have written about the ups and downs of health issues pertaining to diabetes more than a few times here. My husband jokes he has ‘frequent flyer miles’ at the hospital. This weekend he ended up there once again. I don’t know who dropped the ball. It may have been the doctor’s office when they called in a renewal on his medications. Or, it may be that the pharmacist neglected to include one of his meds in his blister pack. He takes a lot of medications, and it’s easy to miss it if one isn’t there. Plus, his meds are often changed for one reason or another. At any rate he’d been without one of them for about a week – a medication he really needs – hence the most recent hospital stay. It’s scary sometimes. And it’s also daunting, this responsibility to be on top of everything medical.

I am doing my best to take care of myself as well as him through it all. I try to keep it positive and I pray a lot. But much of the time I am exhausted, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Yet, I am okay. I know powers greater than mine carry me through it all. So, yes, I am “just” okay and I’m alright with that.

On Type 2 Diabetes


Diabetes

I am struggling to get over the flu as I write this. My husband is still in hospital and the guilt I feel at not being able to visit him is adding to the unwellness. I keep telling myself I cannot help him unless I am well myself – can’t pour from an empty cup and all that. He’s had a lot of issues with his health for several years now. The first “rehearsal” was a heart attack back in 2004 that pulled the rug out from under my feet and left me a quivering mess for a short while. Then a quadruple bypass in 2015 and a list of hospital stays too frequent for my liking – and definitely not for his.

Diabetes causes so many complications. At present his kidneys are failing and we are fighting to keep them working well enough to avoid dialysis. The issues are many and complicated. With each new challenge comes the fear he will not be strong enough to fight another battle. So far, he has always come through it. I am becoming more confident that he will again. We started this year with him in hospital. I am hoping we won’t end it the same way. I have been so proud of him for watching his diet and being on top of his blood sugars. I just wish he had taken better care of his health years ago, but what’s done is done and so we try to carry on.

Diabetes is a horrible disease. It attacks all major organs as well as eyesight and digestion. But it can be managed. We have a friend who was recently diagnosed with this disease. She gets very frightened when she sees what my hubby is going through. But, you see, he was in denial for many years and refused to change his eating habits and at times refused to take his medications – which is why he’s in this condition today. So, if you or a loved one is given this diagnosis don’t panic. It can be managed, but healthy eating and medication is of utmost importance.

Okay, I have spent the bit of energy I had to write this, now I have to put myself back to bed. May all who read this take heed as far as diabetes is concerned, and may you all be well in mind, body, and spirit.

On global warming


I have lived in Fort McMurray for nearly four years and every summer we are faced with smoke from forest fires from across Alberta, British Columbia, the prairies and Ontario, as well as the North West Territories. This summer has been no different. Last week the smoke was so dense we could smell it. It stings your eyes and throat and for people with health issues it becomes a situation where they are house bound.

Last year we had hoped to travel to B.C. but due to smoke and warnings from the health department we were forced to change our plans. My husband does have several health issues and I am sure we were not the only ones forced to alter vacation plans. So, what is my point, you may ask. My point is that besides the environmental costs caused by global warming there are many and varied economic costs as well. The cost to the tourism industry for one.

Of course, there is the huge costs to taxpayers as governments everywhere are faced with ever growing financial challenges from fighting forest fires to cleaning up after severe flooding and other so called ‘natural disasters’.

We take clean air for granted as well as clean, potable water. There is far too much we continue to take for granted. It is disappointing, to say the least, to see our provincial governments fighting against any real efforts to curb global warming, such as a carbon tax. At the same time, they are lagging in taking initiatives to deal with the fall out.

While partisan politics uses every instrument of technology such as mining data to help them shape their promises and their platforms and spend much of their time fighting one another the issues and challenges caused by global warming rage on.

I don’t have any answers except perhaps to say it is more important than ever to exercise your right to vote, in every single election, whether municipal, provincial or federal. Our future and the future of our young people and our very planet may depend on it.

Worry: a form of prayer?


I read recently not to worry because worry is a form of prayer that can be like a self-fulfilling prophesy. I can attest to that; whether my expectations are good or whether they are fraught with worry I pretty much always get what I expect. I’ve read a lot of books on the power of positive thinking and I do believe whole-heartedly in that – if nothing else it makes you feel good and feeling good is always preferable to feeling lousy. But the concept of worry being a form of prayer is a completely new idea to me. “As within, so without”, as the saying goes. So, in that respect I can see how worry can influence people, circumstances, and situations. People seem to be drawn to happy, confident individuals more so than those who seem to have a problem for every solution.

I am not a guru. I don’t have any answers. But I do know from experience that worry never helps anything. And as my mother used to say, “it all comes out in the wash”.

“Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere”. – author unknown

And one more: “Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” – Swedish proverb

The Scourge of Diabetes


I have learned a lot about diabetes over the past number of years. It is an insidious thief, stealing good health bit by bit – eroding it much like a river erodes the banks that attempt to keep it in. I have had many people tell me to “make” my husband eat this healthy food or that. First of all no one can “make” another person do anything they do not want to do. If you think you can you are seriously mistaken. Secondly diabetes is also affected by the ravages of stress on the body. I have seen my husband’s blood sugar levels spike time and again due to stress and unwelcome, and unanticipated events – like my brother’s sudden death.

Diabetes attacks every major organ: heart, kidney, lungs. It also attacks the eyes, the stomach; in short diabetes can be a death sentence, but only if it is not managed. Food is one thing we can control, life events we cannot.

We are not simply biological. We are emotional, spiritual, and psychological as well, and all these realities interact in ways both helpful and not. If one aspect of our being is affected by illness every aspect is.

Enough said!